Miriel: Princess of Rohan - 16. THE CORONATION

The joyful days flew by. Miriel and Legolas grew noticeably radiant. They spent nearly every waking moment together, riding in the nearby forest, walking in the golden hills, wandering through Minas Tirith, standing upon the great wall or sitting by the fountain in the Citadel. Rolande hovered in the background and tried in vain not to stare.

Legolas and Miriel talked about everything. It seemed that nothing could dampen their spirits, but once in a while Legolas would sober and grow silent and look toward the West. Miriel could not guess the reason. She longed to know what was in the Elf's mind, but always she held herself back; for she knew Legolas would tell her when the time was right.

Four days after Miriel's arrival, the King's crowning ceremony was held. The whole of the city gathered together in the Citadel, in the Court of the Fountain. Miriel wandered alone among the throngs of people, looking up at the ribbons and banners fluttering in the breeze and breathing in the soft fragrance freely given by a thick carpet of flower petals that generously released a delightful scent when crushed beneath her feet.

When she had made her way through the crowds to the fountain, she gave a little gasp of surprise. The withered tree that had long stood beside the clear waters was gone, and a living white tree stood in its place, already flourishing and covered with delicate white blossoms.

Miriel looked around for Legolas, for she wanted to ask him what this might mean, but she could not find him anywhere. All the other members of the Fellowship of the Ring were there, even the Hobbits and the Dwarf Gimli, but Legolas alone could not be seen.

Suddenly the heralds blew a great blast on the trumpets, and Miriel looked toward the White Tower and beheld Gandalf standing on the steps, holding a golden winged crown in his hands. All the people went quiet, and the world stopped. The wind ceased to blow. It seemed as if the very air held its breath in expectation as Aragorn slowly came before the wizard, standing tall and abounding in wisdom and power, yet kneeling humbly on the steps. Gandalf set the crown lovingly upon Aragorn's head.

"Now come the days of the King!" Gandalf announced. "May they be blessed."

The spell burst, and the throngs exploded with cheers and jubilation as Aragorn stood triumphantly before them. Miriel shouted with the rest, knowing better than most what this moment meant to him, for she had heard a part of Aragorn's tale. This moment was the fulfillment of many long years of waiting and hard labors.

Aragorn paused until all was quiet, and then he burst into song, lending his own deep, rich voice to the same words that Elendil had spoken when he came out of the Sea, sailing out of the wreck of Númenor.

"Et Earello Endorenna utulien. Sinome maruvan ar Hildinyar tenn' Ambar-metta."

Although Miriel did not know the Elvish language, that famous phrase was known far and wide. Miriel's mother, Rowen, had heard it spoken at the court in Edoras, so Miriel knew what the words meant.

"Out of the Great Sea to Middle-earth I am come. In this place will I abide, and my heirs, unto the ending of the world."

King Aragorn, who was now also called by his long-foretold Elvish name, Elessar, walked through the courtyard, and people bowed before him and offered congratulations. Miriel pushed her way to the front and found herself standing beside Eowyn, who was with Faramir. Miriel nudged her and Eowyn gave her a quick smile of recognition, but Eowyn swiftly returned her attention to the coming King.

Miriel bowed with Eowyn and Faramir as King Aragorn came and stood before them. King Aragorn acknowledged them all gratefully, but on the Lady Eowyn most of all his warm gaze rested. He turned away and moved to continue, but he stopped in his tracks.

Legolas stood in Aragorn's path with a look on his face that made Miriel's heart skip a beat. He seemed younger than ever, and as happy as the morning sunlight, and he greeted the King with bright spots of joy in his shining blue eyes.

Legolas clasped King Aragorn on the shoulder in Elven fashion, and they looked at one another, for this was the end of their long journey through the fire together. But there would never be an end of their great friendship, Miriel thought as she saw the look that passed between them.

"Hannon le," Aragorn said quietly. The way in which he spoke the seemingly inadequate words was somehow enough.

Legolas nodded in acknowledgment, but he was biting back a small smile. Then he stepped aside to reveal a host of Elves standing behind him.

The foremost Elf's face was filled with emotion. He was smiling, but tears glistened on his cheeks. He was a great Elven lord, and the wisdom of many years was upon his brow.

"Lord Elrond!" someone whispered in awe, and Miriel looked with fresh amazement on the Elf, whom she now knew was the legendary Lord of Rivendell.

Lord Elrond gazed at Aragorn, and then he swept back to make way for a woman clad in a shimmering green gown trimmed with satin, gold and lace. Miriel could not see her face, for the Lady was nearly hidden behind the white banner she carried. It was a great standard obviously wrought with special care, and upon the field of light there was the image of a white tree surrounded by seven jeweled stars, which was the symbol of Gondor. King Aragorn stood stock still as the Lady came toward him.

The Lady peered out from behind the standard, and Miriel gasped. The breathless throngs around her stared in awe. The Lady in green was beautiful far beyond the measure of any mortals. Her thick dark hair cascaded in shiny waves about her white shoulders, and her eyes were like stars. The woman handed the banner to someone, and Miriel could see that she was like a willow, soft and graceful, and yet strong and ageless. A circlet of green and gold gems wound about her forehead.

She stood still and silent before King Aragorn. King Aragorn was stunned, but the Lady was smiling. They looked at one another for a long moment, and a year of thought and feeling seemed to pass between them. Suddenly Aragorn rushed at the Lady and caught her in his arms and kissed her in the sight of all.

Another tremendous cheer erupted from the crowd, and Miriel shouted with them, but she felt like crying. This woman must have suffered greatly, as Miriel herself had done; separated from her true love during the dreadful war and wondering if she would ever see him again. But now at last that the work had been completed. The King and his bride were together in triumph and would never be parted.

King Aragorn took the Lady's hand in his and they continued up the path to the fountain, where the four Hobbits stood ready to greet him. Immediately the Halflings bowed low before the King and the Lady, but Aragorn took them by their hands and raised the Hobbits to their feet.

"My friends," he said quietly, looking lovingly at each of them. "You bow to no one."

Then to the surprise and confusion of the Hobbits Aragorn himself knelt before them, and the Lady at his side did likewise. Then all the city in its turn bent knee before the Ringbearer and his companions, who stood ill at ease with the blood rushing to their cheeks and their hands in their pockets.

At last the King passed from the Citadel. The people began to leave, chattering excitedly, for there would be a great feast to follow. But Miriel alone stood still and silent like a rock in the sea as the throngs swept past her. She was shaken with emotion, and she felt she could not join the celebration just yet. There had been too much pain and suffering and death that had been endured by uncountable multitudes in hopes that this glad age would one day arrive, even if they themselves did not live to see it. Most had paid the ultimate sacrifice for the peace of Middle-earth, and indeed very few were left to enjoy the victory. Miriel could not simply forget it and throw herself into the jubilee.

Miriel felt a hand on her shoulder as she wept, and she turned to find Legolas, who was still glowing with joy.

"Oh, Legolas," she cried, and threw herself into his arms.

"Come, my lady," Legolas said quietly. He pulled back and gently brushed away her tears. "Do not cry in this hour of victory!"

"But so much that was beautiful and good has been lost, and cannot be regained," murmured Miriel sorrowfully.

"Yes," agreed the Elf. "Nothing will go back to being the way it was before it was tainted by Shadow. The memory of darkness does not soon fade. But look at what good our sacrifice has bought!" Legolas waved his hand at the departing crowds, who sang and danced in the morning light as they left the courtyard. Happy children darted and flitted in and out among them like carefree little birds.

"It is not for ourselves, but for those who dwell in this land that we have done these things," continued Legolas. "All our sufferings were not in vain. The sun shines out the brighter, and we are free!"

As Miriel watched the rejoicing people, the black cloud slowly evaporated and vanished. Legolas held her and spoke quiet things to her until laughter burst from her heart like a fresh spring of clear water. A gust of wind washed over her and blew away her remaining tears.

"May their memory never fade," she whispered. "This day indeed belongs to those who are not now with us. They are the true heroes of our time."

Legolas smiled at her. He took Miriel's arm in his own and led her after the crowd.

*********
If you're in a great hurry to know what happens next, you don't have to wait. The entire 30-chapter ebook entitled Miriel: Princess of Rohan can be downloaded at www(dot)talesofmiddleearth(dot)com.
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Chapter One: A QUIET EVENING
http://www.theonering.com/docs/18584.html
Chapter Two: RED SUNSET
http://www.theonering.com/docs/18601.html
Chapter Three: THE GLITTERING CAVES OF AGLAROND
http://www.theonering.com/docs/18627.html
Chapter Four: THE BATTLE OF HELM'S DEEP
http://www.theonering.com/docs/18662.html
Chapter Five: FATE'S ARROW
http://www.theonering.com/docs/18729.html
Chapter Six: LEGOLAS
http://www.theonering.com/docs/19023.html
Chapter Seven: ON THE CAUSEWAY
http://www.theonering.com/docs/19066.html
Chapter Eight: A RING AND A PROMISE
http://www.theonering.com/docs/19114.html
Chapter Nine: ROLANDE
http://www.theonering.com/docs/19229.html
Chapter Ten: TROUBLED HEARTS
http://www.theonering.com/docs/19299.html
Chapter Eleven: THE PELENNOR FIELDS
http://www.theonering.com/docs/19399.html
Chapter Twelve: THREE DAYS OF DARKNESS
http://www.theonering.com/docs/19439.html
Chapter Thirteen: THE ROAD TO MINAS TIRITH
http://www.theonering.com/docs/19483.html
Chapter Fourteen: TALES IN THE CITADEL
http://www.theonering.com/docs/19490.html
Chapter Fifteen: EOWYN
http://www.theonering.com/docs/19509.html
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